Trees of Christmas Past, Present, and Future
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the other night I was thinking about Christmas trees.
I had been trying to figure out what to do on the Christmas-tree front. Way back in college I used to get my own trees on my own, though they tended to be of the smallish variety.
Awesome Outfit, Too
The living room of my current house had managed sort of moderately sized trees the last few years, but now the piano is in my living room, and it’s a bit more crowded. But also I was trying and failing to envision myself getting a regular tree up onto the roof of my minivan. The roof that I have never washed before, because there’s no way for me to reach it (or even see it). Goodness knows what’s up there–possibly last year’s tree. But I knew I needed a tree, because Christmas decorations always cheer me through the dark winter days, and because the kids need a tree. And the cats need one.
I finally figured I would go to Emigh Hardware instead of a tree lot, figuring someone there could probably help me if I needed it, and asked my roommate if she would like to come with me. I figured we’d just deal with whatever we found when we got there. After all, somehow the other night we managed to get an enormous rolled-up rug into the rafters of my garage. Though frankly I am probably lucky to be here to write this blog and not dead at the bottom of the ladder or stuck in the roof like Mr. Darcy was a few weeks ago.
Sorry, that’s a tangent.
As we drove, I found myself telling Jeanette a couple of stories about trees from my childhood.*
We used to drive out to this kind of crazy you-cut Christmas tree farm up the road. I wish I had a picture handy of my childhood home, but it was a large and odd geodesic dome, and when I was little my dad would insist on buying a tree large enough to fit in our two-story living room. These were stinkin’ big trees. The whole family and Meg, the family dog, would pile into one of our oddball cars
and go saw down a Christmas tree. The five of us would split up and head out, each to find our own favorite tree. This was a bit challenging, because by the time a tree is in the 20-foot range, it’s not a cute little trimmed tree like the kind in the grocery store parking lots. You’d usually have to overlook gaps in the branches large enough for a man to sit in. Sometimes they’d have weird Siamese-twin trunks or something too. Plus there was the logistical difficulty of each finding a tree and standing by it without a sixth person to roam around and judge. We’d holler to each other from our respective trees until somebody gave up his or her tree to come give ours a chance. I was youngest. I don’t know that anybody ever left his or her tree to come evaluate mine. And that was also probably wise.
So one of the most memorable years was the year that we all gathered around and held onto the tree while Dad sawed the trunk. I mean, that happened every year. What didn’t happen every year was finding that we were collectively unable to hold the tree. It fell on Mom. And I mean it fell on her. She was flat underneath an enormous tree, which was reasonably difficult to get back off of her. I don’t know why, but in our family the role of hapless victim always fell on Mom. (Heh, see what I did there? It fell on her!)
Eventually we got tired of trying to get those doggoned big trees into the house, and settled for regular pretty-big ones that were more manageable. I’d like to say that was because of the tree falling on Mom, but I don’t think that’s why.
One year Dad was sick, so Mom and I went up the hill to get one by ourselves. We were full of pride and enthusiasm. It was a blustery December day, but we had our coats.
Lot of good those freaking coats did us when we finished sawing down our tree and realized we had chosen and cut a tree at the bottom of a huge hill. The place where you’d measure and pay for the trees was at the top of the hill. And the wind was blowing downhill. And also, we realized we are weak. I thought we were going to die hauling that sucker up the hill with the wind blowing in our faces. We passed a house on the way, and I had a fantasy about the residents seeing us struggling and coming out to help. They didn’t. In fact, they probably videotaped us. Good thing YouTube wasn’t a thing yet.
When Jeanette and I got to Emigh Hardware, I looked at some nice little trees in the 4 to 5 foot range. But finally my soft heart went for these cute little live trees. They were so very Charlie Brownish and endearing.
I have always wanted a live Christmas tree. I’m not sure yet if I’ll try to nurture it through the year and use it again next year, or plant it. Hopefully I don’t kill it. But it seemed like a nice investment in my Christmas. 🙂
It’s beautiful. It’s also poky as [bleep]. Turns out it kind of hurt to decorate it, and someone recently joked that I could punish the children by having them put decorations onto the tree. But I love my baby tree.
I only put unbreakable decorations onto it, because the entire thing is within Noah’s reach. I have found some decorations on it that I did not put there, that the kids must have added (despite the pain), which makes me happy.
I find myself looking forward to this Christmas and future Christmases. Maybe I’ll always get live trees. Maybe I’ll learn my lesson if this goes badly. But I hope my kids wind up with some good stories out of them.**
*I recommend doing this–there’s something about taking yourself for a trip down Christmas tree memory lane that is pretty great.
**But I really hope they don’t involve me lying flat on my back under a giant pine.
I see many typos now….go ahead and edit me 🙂
For years when I was young we lived in the north (of the U.S.) and every year we bundled up, (if you can imagine bundling up three children in snowpants, sweaters, parkas, three pairs of socks, boots, two or three pairs of mittens, scarfs, hats etc and getting them to the car) dragged out the sled and hiked into the forest to cut down our tree from the actual woods. We always found a great tree! I’m sure (although I have blocked this from my wonderful memory lane Christmas memories) there was lots of whining, crying and bickering over the tree and the fact that we were hiking through several feet of snow in the woods. My mother can probably attest to the the less than memorable moments. Anyway in 1978, my dad was stationed at Castle AFB in Merced, CA. and we moved there in the April. Fast forward to December and we, as usual although with a lot less bundling, loaded up in our station wagon with the saw and ever present sled and headed to the Sierra to cut down our Christmas tree. We drove and drove and drove and everywhere that was a good place to head into the woods had huge signs warning of life imprisonment and giving your life savings to the government in the form of fines if you even dared look at a tree with a saw in your hands. Lol, as an adult I understand those signs now but as a child, it was a tremendous disappointment. What did we do, we drove back to Merced empty-handed and stopped at the Christmas tree lot in the Sears parking lot and bought our tree from Oregon or Washington like every other Californian did.
I love this story! Reminds me of the ONE and only time we attempted to cut down a Christmas tree….why? BECAUSE ITS FUN! The Nelson’s rolled up to a cut it down yourself lot and walked, and walked and walked so more to find the “perfect” tree. We all had different ideas of “perfect” and why my parents let us have a voice in the matter I still don’t know. My dad and sister like the cheap, ugly, fluffy, no gaps kinda tree. My mom and I prefer the fancy, beautiful, expensive nobles. See where this is going? So we finally find a tree we can agree on. My poor dad who doesn’t have a flexible bone in his body shimmys under the “perfect” tree to cut it down…..we stand it up and….it’s not “perfect”. So, we do what any other law abiding family does….WE DROP IT and pretend like some jerk must have cut it down :). We find the “perfect” tree….yep….not perfect…Drop and ditch :). I’m pretty sure I remember doing this a few times before my dad was ready to kill us and we settled on a tree. From that point on my dad sent my mom and I to the overpriced Star Market tree lot where you were guaranteed an amazing tree $$$$ and he’d return to pick it up alone. Years later this is why I own a “perfect” fake tree and yes….so do they 🙂